Shop Local: Time for us to back our amazing local retailers

Support local high street shops.

Support local high street shops. - Credit: Archant

This year, our favourite independent shops have been hit again and again and again.

They were shut for three months. They’ve been forced to make often expensive changes to their layout and business models.

Now, at the most important time of the year for retail, the threat of a tighter lockdown is looming.

With that in mind, we hit the streets to find out what business owners in Hampstead, Highgate, Islington, Harlesden, Willesden and Hackney are thinking, and to launch a new Shop Local campaign.

In Hampstead and Highgate, one of the most striking results of the survey was how resilient our shops have been.

By and large, they’ve rolled up their sleeves, kept going and, in many cases, found creative ways of adapting to the new normal.

In Hampstead, Annette Rose has spent lockdown creating new products and new lines. In Highgate, Avril Castellazzo has beaten the odds to have a strong autumn so far – by turning to private shopping and highlighting how local shops are far more than just places to buy things.

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Across in Muswell Hill, the much-loved Children’s Bookshop has turned to deliveries and the web to help customers – and in the coming weeks it’s going to, by hook or by crook, bring back the author events that enchant families across north London.

Owner of Hoxton’s Bookartbookshop, Tanya Peixot, told our reporters support from local people has kept her business going during the coronavirus crisis, and Christoper Moss, of Islington leather bag shop Bags of Moss, had some wise advice.

He urged customers to follow a flow chart when making purchases: “First is thinking of the environment, and do I really need it?

“Secondly, can I get it on my high street?

“And if I can’t get it from an independent shop on the high street, the last question is, do I need it enough to sanction international tax avoidance, delocalising the economy and defunding public services?”

Our survey also revealed more than 80 per cent of independent businesses in Willesden and Harlesden are struggling in the current climate.

Some businesses have created hugely successful online stores and with the very real possibility of physical shops closing at some stage this winter, this newspaper implores you to remember that.

You really don’t need to dig very far to find inspiring stories behind the facades of our high streets.

And this is why our Shop Local campaign is more important than ever. The last nine months have proven how lucky we are to have the vibrant high streets we do.

As customers, we need to make sure the efforts made by each and every local shop are rewarded.

So head to the shops – or if you can’t, why don’t you check what your favourite shop’s website looks like. You might be surprised.